Chrétien knows how to get it done

Here is the inimitable Jean Chrétien giving a speech for the Liberals. It is an amazing speech. It’s worth watching if you love Chrétien, the Liberal Party, or just good, rousing rhetoric. But it’s also interesting to contrast against the 2011 Liberal campaign, which has been largely a flop with not much in the way of redeeming features.

I understand that Canada is a federation of convenience. I understand that the provinces are extraordinarily diverse demographically, geographically, and culturally. I understand that we have no real unifying national identity to speak of. I understand that Canadian nationalism as it emerged from the World Wars was mostly taken up as an emotional force as a propaganda tool to advance federalism in Quebec. But still — when that old man stands up and declares “Vive le Canada!”, a little tingle runs down my spine, and I want to shake my fist in the air.

A few weeks ago on CBC’s Cross Country Checkup, Rex Murphy went off on a slightly uncharacteristic rant. He complained about the way politics is being done in this country, with parties that carefully section out segments of the population and offer them bribes (I am paraphrasing). His familiar Newfoundland voice echoed with yearning as he wished aloud for a leader with a national vision — a leader who would ask us to vote, not just for which bundle of goodies we believed in, but for a vision of Canada that could inspire us. He evoked a country where the fisherman in Newfoundland cared about the farmers in Saskatchewan and vice-versa. He evoked a country where the employed cared about the unemployed, where the well cared about the sick, and where the old cared about the young. This is the sort of party you could care about, the sort of party you could believe in and support with pride in your heart.

And when Chrétien lists off accomplishments that reflect that sort of Canada — accomplishments like Medicare, Canada Pension, the Charter of Rights, and so many others — your heart can’t help but swell, not as a Liberal, but as a Canadian, that people so far-removed and different from one another could treat each other with such care and respect and dignity.

None of the current leaders are expressing that sort of vision. The reasons for this are anybody’s to guess, but I blame the culture and conventional wisdom of campaign strategists. They’ve got election politics down to a very specific science, with targeted audiences and careful demographic tracking and vote suppression and informed-sounding soundbites. Amid all this careful managing, there’s no room for a vision of Canada like the one Chrétien forged in the furnace of separatism.

The particulars of campaigns are almost meaningless. Everyone knows that election platforms are exercises in creative writing with no real connection to reality, and everyone knows that the actual business of governing contains endless unexpected hoops and hurdles. Beyond the particulars, what matters is vision and priorities. And no one is presenting a vision of Canada that lifts us up and inspires us.

If you want to give a little prayer before May 2nd, pray for politicians with vision and compassion for all the people of Canada. We’ve had really, really good luck over the past century. We’ve taken groups of nations with wildly different interests and we’ve managed to work together and look after one another. In human history, this is a big deal. We need politicians willing to pursue the great challenges of the twenty-first century, the medicares, charters, and official languages of new generations. We need to address the needs of our aboriginal communities. We need a sane energy policy. We need a compassionate foreign policy. But what we need most is a society composed of Canadians invested in helping and supporting one another, in uplifting the disadvantaged, and in working together despite our differences. If our country is one we can be proud of, it’s because we’ve been led by people who believe in those things.

Jean Chretien Still Alive!

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien has awoken from his sarcophagus proving that he is still alive in some unearthly form. Our sources estimate his age to be at least 180. At first it was unclear what he wanted from us. CBC political commentators and analysts feared that he craved the blood of virgins and were wondering if they should sacrifice some of the newly elected Quebec NDP MPs to quell his thirst. Then it turned out that he has risen to endorse a NDP/Liberal merger.

Watch on

The former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien gets pied on Prince Edward Island (2000).

Parking Stall 23
that building that never empties

   slow like Feist

 India warrior bricks

     it rises in the sun

   parked Jameson suit

          (not J.J.)

     more   like  Chretien

        early Trudeau walk to work

     asphalt lawn

          lines that speak

     no particular language

           how 2000 police  entries

        sifted paper

              never bent

           two brother errors

      Sidney stays with Mario

          our  kids   room   alone

A Defense of the Liberal Party of Canada

  by ShaneMackenzie @ 2011-04-14 – 23:02:31

There is a recent book, “Divided Loyalties: The Liberal Party Of Canada, 1984-2008” by Brooke Jeffrey, and I believe the premise wrongly depicts the time period’s Liberal Party. Due to the title and premise, I do not care what it concedes on the half of progress despite the divided nature, it argues, of the party. While some might emphasize the Chretien/Martin “camps” and the contested leadership conventions of 2006 and 2008, conversely, I have seen the same party values all the way through. I am a first year university student who only recently came into the political realm. But, in studying the years, as objectively as possible, from 1984 until today I have come to see that the Liberals clearly will do what must be done. Without needing to get caught up in the hysteria of Martin’s tactics in the backrooms and the Stephane Dion criticism, I see that the traditional values of the party remain. The Liberal party has always sought to reflect Canada as the tolerant, center-left and welcoming party and has been successful at this a large part of the time. The other parties have tried to distort or shift the natural leanings of the nation. I have watched the NDP shift from the radical socialist party of Canada to the ‘mildly more left than the Liberal Party’ party. The Conservatives have, in that time: split, polarized, crumbled, risen, united and many other odd things. But, the old Progressive Conservative party is indeed deceased and a renamed Canadian Alliance is governing currently. I see many Liberals, or people who used to vote Liberal, now disenfranchised with the current leadership and direction. I must admit that I desire internal reforms, but this is only to ensure that I put a necessary critical eye to the party that I associate with and make sure it is doing the best job possible. It, despite past reforms, remains conceptually sound. I am sad to see many Liberals not come out to the polls, not follow politics or move party affiliation to the Conservatives or NDP. The Liberal Party has always been a vehicle for people of rational, center-left / center-right and balanced beliefs. Partisans too far to the left or right, like the current Conservatives, exemplify the people who Liberals have always adamantly fought. These are the times when all must unify under the Liberal banner in order to strengthen the leader, strengthen the party and provide a clear momentum on the opposition of ideologue, rigid and NOT compassionate men like Stephen Harper. Liberals, your party is not divided. They’ve been through some difficulties, but still brought accomplished significant things. During the period of 1993-2006, the Liberals had a unified message, brought the clarity act to deal with separatism, balanced the budget, legalized gay marriage and kept away from ideologue messages of left or right persuasion. The Liberals exemplify the Canadian value of “good government” despite what some say about the sponsorship scandal. Chretien’s new autobiography aptly deals with that in my opinion through showing that the people responsible were not Liberals. Guité was even hired under Mulroney. Despite scrutiny, many things did happen that are noteworthy in this time period. The party was effective, coherent and put differences aside when things needed to be done. The Liberal party is diverse in belief but remains a solid vehicle to keep Canada united and progressive. I speak to anyone who is a social Liberal and agrees that Conservatives are failing at even solving their priority issue of the economy. The premise of this book is that the party has been divided for 25 years. I disagree. When you have a surplus of people striving to lead the party that has governed Canada for the majority of the last century, I’m not shocked nor surprised.